Mara Gordon: Aunt Zelda’s, Inc.
She is hard at work venturing into uncharted territory and she’s doing so to bring a better realm of treatment to the healthcare community. She’s developing protocols, seeking expertise from seasoned professionals, and building her business from a solid foundation that patients suffering from all levels of disease can depend upon. Her secret ingredient? Medical Cannabis. Mara Gordon, founder of Aunt Zelda’s, is shedding light on the new way to treat disease with alternative medicine and as a patient herself who has swapped 23 of her 26 pharmaceuticals for cannabis… she’s living proof that she’s developing a lasting solution.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
I initially joined the industry as a patient seeking a solution that would help me get off of the various pharmaceuticals I was on and help me manage my pain. When I began my search for regimens that implemented medical cannabis, what I found was sub-standard; it was clear that I was on my own for finding medicine. As a process engineer, my natural inclination is to analyze the medicine and figure out what’s going to be best for me, so that I can have consistency and predictability. I had been on 26 different pharmaceuticals at that point and I now have been able to eliminate 23 of those with cannabis. The thing to note is that the majority of the existing marketplace is focused on the recreational crowd, and we are more interested in those who may have experimented with cannabis in high school or college, but have no clue where to start with it therapeutically to treat their medical issues.
I had been on 26 different pharmaceuticals at that point and I now have been able to eliminate 23 of those with cannabis.
What were you doing before the ‘green rush’?
In my previous incarnation as a process engineer, I worked for Fortune500 companies around the world. Most recently, I worked for Safeway Inc. I headed up the process engineering and methodology sector in the IT department. I stopped working there back in 2004 and focused on my health. Then, in 2008, my husband and I sold our second home in Colorado and took a 2-year road trip. We talked to people, learned from people, and offered our services to people in areas both in the United States and Canada. When my husband’s back pain became so bad that was going to have to resort to being in a wheelchair, we had to return to California so that he could have surgery. The problem with that was that he was a sober alcoholic and wasn’t willing to take the opiates. His journey was what first initiated his search for alternative medicine.
What are you doing to impact the industry?
We are really revolutionizing the way serious disorders are being addressed with medical cannabis. We are leading the way in establishing protocols for diseases and laying out customized treatments that go as far as strain selection and looking at cannabinoid and terpene profiles to deciding which one works best for that person’s specific medical condition. We do a very in-depth patient intake that helps us interface with patient’s own doctors and medical teams where appropriate, and connect with people in more of a holistic way rather than simply addressing individual symptoms. We also have a medical director who is board-certified in Cardiology, Lipidology, Internal Medicine, and is a Nutritionist and Homeopath. He is also available for consult for patients. We speak at conferences all over the world educating on the correct uses for medical cannabis, and we’re in the process of developing data-tracking technologies that will have self-learning algorithms to make our findings become universally-available treatment systems.
We are really revolutionizing the way serious disorders are being addressed with medical cannabis.
Describe your work ethic to us in one word.
Tell me about a time in your career that didn’t go as planned and what you did about that? How did you handle it?
Let’s go back to my time at Safeway when I was the head of the department, had moved up here to Northern California, and was initially told that I was going to be given two projects to roll out the new methodology that would be used by the company worldwide. Now, anytime that you’re changing something of that magnitude, you need to start small and get the kinks worked out before you roll out company wide. Well, within a couple of weeks we had expanded from having two projects to having 25 and within a month, we were being expected to be rolling out the new methodology on over 100 projects simultaneously. Obviously, that was a recipe for failure. So, I went outside the company and called on all the experts I knew in the field and had either worked with, knew, or read their books, and invited them to come in as consultants to act as mentors for the different development teams. The results: We were able to successfully roll out a new methodology and it still stands, to this day, as the largest single rollout for any company.
What book have you read that you’ve been inspired by? Any particular read we should put on our list?
The first book that I would list is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. When I read that book back in 1993, it changed my life. I put my house on the market back in Dallas, TX, shut down my business, and moved to California. The second book I would say is a must-read is Shaman Healer Sage by Alberto Villoldo. Interestingly, my Internist first recommended it to me.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
The best advice I have been given is this: You do not need to know how to do everything as long as you surround yourself with people who do.
How would you advise someone who wants to join the industry?
I would tell them that the industry is so vast; food supply, industrial, medicine… just pick a market and keep focused on that market! It’s too easy to get sidetracked trying to keep up with the latest opportunity in this industry. So, pick your market within that and stick with it.
When we first got into this business back in late 2010, early 2011, we had people coming out of the woodwork telling us that we should do this, or we could do that. Most of those people aren’t around anymore because they were so busy chasing the newest opportunity for making that first million, that they couldn’t stay focused on any particular thing long enough to execute. One day it was LED lights and the next day was vaporizer cartridges. Aunt Zelda’s has been the turtle instead of the hare. We have been methodically refining the medicine, refining the protocol, refining our business, so that we could ensure a solid foundation to build upon. That’s a huge difference between us and other entrepreneurs out there. Know the business you’re in and be in that business. Know what you do and do what you know!
Know the business you’re in and be in that business. Know what you do and do what you know!
What is a skill or trait that you think is necessary to make an impact in this industry?
Out-of-the-box thinking and being adaptable is key! Also, know that you’re math and science skills will be put to the test daily. In this medical space, there is no room for multi-level marketing ventures; this is for serious business people who are looking to figure out a way to revolutionize medicine, how we think about medicine, and how we look at health and wellness. In order to do that, you have to be that combination of left and right-brained– Creative, but technical.
What is the most important thing for us to know now about the legal marijuana industry?
When I look at this question and ask myself what is the thing to know now about the legal cannabis industry, I look at that with blinders on as someone who is strictly looking at the medical aspect of cannabis. I would consider the most important thing to know now about our industry is that mainstream doctors are beginning to see the light and are accepting cannabis as an integral part of their patients’ treatment plans. And as long as we’re able to continue the conversation with them about cannabis as medicine without getting undercut by the hemp products out there, or by people trying to sell a single solution, then I think that cannabis will continue growing into a part of sophisticated medicine. It’s happening more and more now and I think that’s very exciting!
This question is too huge! What else do you need to know? Well, do you have a few hours? A few days?
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?
I think I’ll be saying, ‘Wow! What a great year!’ I think that we’re going to look back a year from now and we’re going to see that the cream has risen to the top or is in the process of rising to the top. I think we will see strong alliances being made between the key, high-quality players, and that more and more will be moving towards the mainstream market.